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Small girl brushing her teeth
Here’s a statistic that may surprise you: An estimated 42% of children age 2-11 have had cavities. And although you may think it isn’t a big deal because you can just get them filled, the more cavities children have now, the more oral health problems they’re likely to have later. But the good news is that there are some easy ways to prevent tooth decay and minimize the amount of dental work your child needs from a family dentist in Valparaiso. Keep reading for 5 great tips that will start making a difference right away.

1. Prevent Sports-Related Oral Injuries

If your child plays sports (even recreational sports like mountain biking), it’s a good idea to get them an athletic guard to protect their teeth and gums. Preventing injuries such as loose or knocked-out teeth is so much easier than treating them.

In addition, studies have shown that custom-made athletic guards also lessen the severity of head and neck injuries like concussions.

2. Schedule the First Checkup at the Right Time

The American Dental Association recommends that parents schedule the first checkup within 6 months of their child getting their first tooth, or no later than their first birthday.

At these early visits, they won’t get a cleaning, X-rays or a fluoride treatment, but they’re still important for the following reasons:

  • Your child will feel much more comfortable in the dental chair as they get older if they start seeing a dentist early on.
  • If there are any issues, they’ll be found early when proactive treatment is the most effective.
  • You’ll get valuable information about the use of fluoride, oral hygiene habits, dietary considerations, and normal versus abnormal development. You’ll also be able to ask any questions about thumb-sucking, pacifiers or other issues related to your child’s oral health.
3. Minimize Sugars

Sweet things that have little nutritional value such as juice, candy or soda are okay as a treat, but your child shouldn’t have them every day. Focus on fresh fruit such as orange slices and beverages like plain water and milk instead.

Also, limit snacking or sipping on anything sweet throughout the day. Remember the phrase, “Sip all day, get decay.”

4. Get Sealants

The first permanent molars come in around age 6 and have to last your children for the rest of their life. The longer these teeth stay cavity-free, the more likely they’ll be able to do that.

Unfortunately, even with good brushing habits, cavity-causing bacteria can still collect in the microscopic pits and grooves in the chewing surfaces of these back teeth and lead to tooth decay.

Sealants are thin coatings that protect these surfaces from bacteria and make it easier to keep them clean. They’re much easier than getting fillings or dental crowns down the road!

5. Get Professional Recommendations For Oral Hygiene

Along with regular dental care, good brushing and flossing habits are the foundation of good oral health. Ask a dentist or hygienist for tips on how to help your child establish great habits that will serve them well into old age.

With these 5 tips, you can help your child have fewer oral health problems and a better chance of a lifelong healthy smile!